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In his latest novel, Mo Yan—arguably China’s most important contemporary literary voice—recreates the historical sweep and earthy exuberance of his much acclaimed novel Red Sorghum. In a country where patriarchal favoritism and the primacy of sons survived multiple revolutions and an ideological earthquake, this epic novel is first and foremost about women, with the female body serving as the book’s central metaphor. The protagonist, Mother, is born in 1900 and married at seventeen into the Shangguan family. She has nine children, only one of whom is a boy—the narrator of the book. A spoiled and ineffectual child, he stands in stark contrast to his eight strong and forceful female siblings.
Mother, a survivor, is the quintessential strong woman who risks her life to save several of her children and grandchildren. The writing is picturesque, bawdy, shocking, and imaginative. The structure draws on the essentials of classical Chinese formalism and injects them with extraordinarily raw and surprising prose. Each of the seven chapters represents a different time period, from the end of the Qing dynasty up through the Japanese invasion in the 1930s, the civil war, the Cultural Revolution, and the post-Mao years. Now in a beautifully bound collectors edition, this stunning novel is Mo Yan’s searing vision of twentieth-century China.
About the Author
Howard Goldblatt is a literary translator of numerous works of contemporary Chinese fiction from mainland China and Taiwan, including Nobel Prize–winner Mo Yan, five of whose works are published by Arcade (The Garlic Ballads; The Republic of Wine; Big Breasts and Wide Hips; Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out; Shifu, You'll Do Anything for a Laugh). He has also translated works by Liu Zhenyun (I Did Not Kill My Husband; The Cook, the Crook, and the Real Estate Tycoon; Remembering 1942, which are published by Arcade), Huang Chunming (The Taste of Apples), and Chen Ruoxi (The Execution of Mayor Yin). He taught modern Chinese literature and culture for more than a quarter of a century. He lives in Lafayette, Colorado.